My Favorite Team Development Exercise

I’m often asked about team development and/or mentoring, both of which are passions of mine. Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-fil-A, often reminded us that “businesses don’t succeed or fail…people do.” Therefore, we always placed a premium on developing our people. While many businesses use the people to grow the business…we thought in terms of using the business to grow the people. After all, Remarkable organizations understand that as the people grow, growth in the business will follow.

There are lots of ways to go about it, but there’s something to be said for the simple notion of unpacking a great book together. What always strikes me is how much I learn not just from reading the book, but from the discussions the team has about it. When we get around a table to share what we learned, I am often amazed by the profound insights of others and the things I apparently missed that they caught…I sometimes find myself thinking “did I even read the same book?!?” As people share what they took away and are applying from the reading, I gain the advantage of learning from their experience.

For busy leaders, it’s a must-have discipline to take time for this kind of learning and development. But it is one of those things we all know we need to do, but don’t always have time for. So, one approach I sometimes take in order to make this more manageable (particularly for those in the group for whom reading is drudgery) is assign each team member a separate chapter of the book to read and to then present to the group. Everyone is invited to read the chapter, but one person will unpack it for those who didn’t have time or didn’t dig deep into it. My experience has been you certainly read differently when you know you’re going to have to teach it to others!

As we close out 2020, it’s the perfect opportunity to map out how you will be developing your team in the new year. What resources, both financial and time, do you need to commit to helping those around you grow? When one team member grows, we all benefit. And when the team grows, the business is sure to follow!

To help you as you’re making those plans, I thought I’d share some of my favorite books to deep-dive as a team. I’m curious, what would you add?

Classics Reads:

  • Good to Great by Jim Collins
  • How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  • The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker

Current Reads:

  • Upstream: The Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen by Dan Heath
  • The Power of Moments by Chip Heath
  • Building a Storybrand by Donald Miller
  • When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel Pink
  • Dare to Serve: How to Drive Superior Results by Serving Others by Cheryl Bachelder
  • Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear
  • Love Works: Seven Timeless Principles for Effective Leaders by Joel Manby
  • Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth
  • Know What You’re FOR: A Growth Strategy for Work, An Even Better Strategy for Life by Jeff Henderson
  • Love What You Do by Dana Spinola

What’s fascinating to me is that we’re finding that some of you are using my new Spark Course in a similar way! My friends at Collideoscope did some research with some of those using Spark and learned of teams who are taking it alongside one another and then coming together (virtually) to discuss what stood out to them personally and how they can apply those lessons to their organization.

Kent Harrison, Headmaster at a private school outside of Atlanta, started by reading Remarkable! with his team. They used that book as a growth tool for the whole faculty, looking for vocabulary or statements that could become norms for how his team thinks when serving their families. That continued quest for growth led him to Spark.

Within the course, a lesson that really stood out to Kent was “Getting better will make our community demand that we get bigger.”

“As a school with limited resources, we are maximizers. We have to provide the same experience for less. Or do we? David has me thinking outside the box to think about adding value to our families beyond what they expect.” -Kent Harrison

Now that Kent has completed the course, his next steps include having his inner-circle complete the course. He is looking for ways they can improve their customer experience without a large investment. “The thing I like most about David’s teachings, he isn’t suggesting that we invest a great deal of capital. It’s more about how we can change our thinking to make the impact we are in business to make. The larger impact we make, the more our business will grow!”

I love hearing how business leaders are finding ways to create value for their customers by thinking outside the box. Providing excellent service in extraordinary ways makes work enjoyable for your employees and your customers will feel valued. It’s a win-win for your culture and your brand.

To learn more about Spark and how you might able to use to use it to inspire your team, visit

I’d love to connect with you on social media, you can find me on these platforms:

Together, we can Spark a Revolution of brands more defined by meaning than money, brands that achieve success in a manner that redefines it.

David Salyers
Founder, Spark A Revolution

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